Abramovich asks Chelsea bidders to put up extra £500m for Ukraine foundation | latest news from nigerian newspapers today

Abramovich asks Chelsea bidders to put up extra £500m for Ukraine foundation

Former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has asked the three groups bidding to buy the Premier League club to put £500 million more into a foundation he wants to set up for victims of the war in Ukraine.

The request was made by associates of the Russian billionaire during face-to-face meetings with the three groups in London, where they gathered to make their final pitches for the reigning European and world champions this week.

However, while the request came only days before a final decision on who the preferred bidder was expected and did surprise the club’s prospective new owners, the money is not additional in terms of the overall number they are being asked to commit.

The Athletic understands Abramovich wants the groups to make more money available to his foundation, as opposed to putting it into the club.

Abramovich asks Chelsea bidders to put up extra £500m for Ukraine foundation | latest news from nigerian newspapers today
Abramovich asks Chelsea bidders to put up extra £500m for Ukraine foundation | latest news from nigerian newspapers today

The plan would appear to be that at least £2.5 billion from the sales process eventually reaches the foundation, with this new £500 million being part of a £1 billion commitment that comes immediately.

The remaining £1.5 billion would follow as soon as there is clarity from the UK government on how Chelsea’s £1.5 billion debt to one of Abramovich’s holding companies is either written off or repaid.

Last month, when he put the club up for sale, the 55-year-old said he intended to write it off but the fact he has subsequently been sanctioned by the government, which means his British assets are frozen, has complicated matters.

Abramovich also wants the bidding groups to commit at least £1 billion for investment in the playing budget and stadium-expansion project, taking the overall figure required for his consent to more than £3.5 billion.

The auction for the club has been run by US-based merchant bank Raine Group, on Abramovich’s behalf, but the British government has the final say as the sale of a frozen asset requires a special licence. Key to its approval will be guarantees that the proceeds do not flow to the 55-year-old Russian.

The three bidding groups are all led by American billionaires with existing investments in professional sport: Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly; Crystal Palace co-owners David Blitzer and Josh Harris; and Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca.

While there is some frustration among the bidders at what are perceived to be late changes to the process, The Athletic understands all three remain committed to buying Chelsea and each of them is confident of success.

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